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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 24, 2012 10:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

This was the full review, by Mike Saunders, from Rolling Stone, April 28 1976, on Live Cream vol. 2:

"In their glory days of 1967-8, Cream singlehandedly spawned the whole genre of aloof heavy rock egomania, not to mention a whole school of insufferably self-centered lead rock guitarists.

Technique oblivious to any content: That's what Cream live were all about. Never mind that their fabled improvisations consisted of playing around one chord (or, often, one note) for 20 minutes — they did better than anyone else.

Well, it's here again, just as I remember it. "Deserted Cities Of The Heart," "White Room," and "Tales Of Brave Ulysses" might as well be the same song: after a half-hearted stab at a couple verses of the tune, in each case Cream goes into their characteristic one-chord solo and don't budge until the ending of the song. "Politician" demonstrates for the nth time just what an awful blues (blooze? bluze?) singer Jack Bruce was. For such reportedly speeded up guys, the tempos drag unmercifully on every song.

Side Two really brings it out front: an abysmally leaden seven-minute version of "Sunshine Of Your Love," and then, god forbid, 13:42 of "Steppin' Out" (not "Hideway," as the jacket incorrectly states). In comparison to Eric Clapton's powerful versions on both What's Shakin' and the first Bluesbreakers LP, "Steppin' Out" here is totally vacuous.

In recent years, Third Generation heavy-metal groups have gotten down to business and produced some fine heavy —metal rock. Cream were in large part an antecedent (sound-wise, at least) of the whole style, but it all seems so far in the past now — strange as it may seem, Black Sabbath's concise efficiency makes the whole Cream era look as self-indulgent and ludicrous as it indeed was.

The truly amazing thing about Cream Live Volume II is that Cream live sound every bit as boring as they did four years ago. In that sense, and in about every other possible as well, this album is a true artifact."

It kind of echoes Jon Landau's infamous review of a Cream show in Rolling Stone in 1968, which when Clapton read it, made him want to quit the band. Some quotes:

"Ginger Baker played every rock drumming break, every drumming cliché that there is... Clapton is a master of the blues clichés of the last 40 years. He knows the music of B.B.King and Albert King like the back of his hand and he didn’t play a note that wasn’t blues...
Once the improvisation began, wholly unrelated to the context that the song had set for it, indistinguishable from the improvisation that preceded it [in the previous song], the whole concept of interaction, the whole concept of a band was destroyed.
By abandoning the chord progression of the song they started out with and improvising solely around the root chord…they insure the incompatibility of the solo compared with the song. It was every man for himself and back to the cliches.
Improvisation means the creation of new musical ideas spontaneously. It does not mean stringing together pieces and phrases of already learned musical ideas. It means using these phrases as a basis for exploration and extension….Clapton’s problem is that while he has vast creative potential, at this time he hasn’t begun to fullfill it. He is a virtuoso performing other people’s ideas.
[Stepping Out] was twice as long as it should have been and was too much in the established mode of lengthy but ultimately aimless improvising. Baker’s drumming was much too busy... [Baker] is extremely repetitious, not particularly creative, and highly overactive. I found [Toad] terribly boring...
Cream have been called a jazz group. They are not, they are a blues band and a rock band… Ultimately what we heard were three virtuosos romping through every trick in the book, occasionally building it into something, occasionally missing the mark altogether, but always in a one-dimensional style that made no use of dynamics, structure, or any of the other elements of rock besides drum licks and riffs."

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2012-03-24 17:35:23

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Poster: steam locomotive Date: Mar 24, 2012 12:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

I don't find anything to disagree with in that review. I remain mystified by fans who find overlap between Cream and the Dead.

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Poster: user unknown Date: Mar 24, 2012 8:26pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

The "overlap", if any exists, would be in improvisation; and judged by a jazz POV both groups would be found wanting.

The review mentions no Cream/Dead correlation. It was simply a trashing of the original "super group" by a punk-rocking musician wannabe hack writer, who as Sir William surmised was probably immersed in a vat of "sour grapes" at both the talent and popularity of the members of Cream while his own musical endeavors languished in the depths of the undiscovered.

And the comparable review is definitely by a narrow-minded hack wearing blinders to all but that which he endorses and/or manages.

However, isn't that what all "critics" appear to be to those who disagree with their critiques. Of course if one is of he same ilk, the critic may be thought to be a genius.

This post was modified by user unknown on 2012-03-25 03:26:19

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Poster: steam locomotive Date: Mar 24, 2012 9:21pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Cream comes up on this board on a semi-regular basis, hence my reference to overlap. I wasn't referring to the review per se.

Also, I was specifically referring to the Landau review. Landau is an interesting critic, having become Bruce Springsteen's manager relatively early in his career. So not only did he have an ear for talent, but was willing to put money on what he wrote.

I did think his review nailed Cream's improvisational shortcomings, i.e, that they simply play repeating patterns of musical phrases, rather than improvising melodically (and there are no real changes, so there's certainly not much going on harmonically). That's a significant difference from the Dead or the Allmans who use jams to tell a story, instead of adhering to the formula of blues cliches + chops + volume = rock and roll success.

Small wonder that Clapton didn't stick around, though I've never found Clapton a particularly compelling improviser in any format.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 24, 2012 8:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Thx all--really appreciate the input.

Defn agree with those that note (har) that CREAM had much more "structure" and less subtle variation across jams, across years, compared with the DEAD, and other than both doing "jams", in no way meant to compare them (ie, rock bands of the 60s famous for long songs is the simple entry point for me).

I'll just add that famous quote from Mickey to Jerry at a CREAM show: "...this is the BEST fricking band in the world!" to which Jerry replied "...they are tonight...", which minimally shows they thought some about them...and in some positive fashion, minimally.

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Poster: user unknown Date: Mar 24, 2012 8:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

As Fred would say, "Y'elcome."

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Poster: user unknown Date: Mar 24, 2012 12:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

this may shed some light on the peculiar POV of this writer

"Metal" Mike Saunders

Graduated from Hall High (Little Rock), 1969. Graduated from University of Texas/Austin, 1973. Served twenty-two full-time years in the accounting profession until cashing out in early 1999 ( = semi-retired, same profession, but now a gruelling schedule that ends weekly at 5pm on Wednesdays to permit proper time for #1: studying production techniques of modern teenpop recordings and #2: managing those excessive fixed-income retirement funds). Wears a one-of-a-kind Kiss Army/Christina/AC/DC backpack to punk shows. Plays/played in a punk rock band (1978 - 2000+), cussed a lot doing it. The year before (1977), played drums for Richard Meltzer (‘I'm In Love With Your Mom’). Thinks Daphne & Celeste ultimately hold more secrets vital to the future of mankind than Bob Dylan. Still a big, mean 5' 6", 132 lbs. Can and will do Eurobeat dance steps to the A*Teens and all other spiritual descendents of Betty, Veronica 'n' Jughead.

Jughead, more like Butthead...a frigging yuppie CPA Butthead

Disclaimer: I mean no offense to any "friggin yuppie CPA Butthead" who may frequent this message board. Hey, if that's who you are there's nothing wrong with that. Seriously, some of my best friends are "frigging yuppie CPA Buttheads".

This post was modified by user unknown on 2012-03-24 19:18:23

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 29, 2012 1:05pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Bill--was just re-reading to make sure I didnt miss anything here, and this is frickin funny...the "friggin yuppie CPA buttheads" comment.

Good one.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Mar 25, 2012 8:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

The Saunders review is one of the reasons I find so much that came from Rolling Stone, to be full of shit ...That Sunshine of Your Love is just awesomely powerful . To me he sounds like he is just being the smart-ass dick. critic . It is easier to dismiss than Landau's review .
Jon Landau has has his share of getting it wrong, or overstatements ("I saw rock & roll's future and its name is Bruce Springsteen." ), but is not an idiot . I can kind of see what he is saying, and I was not there at the concert ( I rely only on the live tracks form the issued albums ). But I would guess If I did hear the concert , I might think "yeah, you are right, but you,have to look past those quibbles. You are missing how great this is ". I think I would be more impressed .

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 26, 2012 12:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Actually, you CAN hear the concert that Landau reviewed - it's on the Brandeis University audience tape known as 9/10/67 (though actually misdated) -
http://gpatt.customer.netspace.net.au/cream/destruction_of_cream.htm

I can also see Landau's points; I just don't object to them like he did!
I think he didn't like live Dead either.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Mar 26, 2012 7:58am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Thanks for the link to the reviews . The "Tale of Two Concerts" section was of particular interest, with the editor' 's counter arguments to Landau's original review . I think most of us here have heard lots of critical anti Dead comments form the "Rock Press". One of the problems I have found with Rock critics reviewing bands that have extended instrumental sections , is that most of these critics don't seem to have the "equipment" to review these bands . Most of these guys come from a journalist background, which is to say "words " . Their bias is going to be for more lyrics oriented artists , Like Dylan, Springsteen, etc. Words, they understand . There are plenty of times when an artist is "wanky", "pretentious", etc., but I am not sure these critics could tell the good from the bad with this music .
Also I think a guy who has to sit through 100s of concerts, is going to prefer a performance that is tight, and hopefully not too long , so he can go home and sleep, or watch television . Bands that go on and on (think those Grateful Dead 2nd sets ) is going to annoy this guy .
I am not "anti-critic", in the areas they know well, I respect, and have been turned on to some great music from the most insightful of them . But some instances, I think they are out of their water , when it comes to instrumental music .

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 25, 2012 10:10pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

As I have said so often before, DD, my older brothers and friends all agreed to a person that live CREAM shows had no comparison, and they'd seen Jimi and the Who at Monterey, and everything else from 65-70...At the risk of repetition, ahem, they put Moby Grape at the top of SF bands, with Quicksilver second, but felt none of the No Cal sorts really held a candle to CREAM. I never agreed with them, of course, and only became a CREAM fanatic the past few yrs...ironically.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 26, 2012 10:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

And also, many guys in the SF bands felt they didn't hold a candle to Cream either. Casady & Kaukonen of course said often how awed they were when Cream came through town; and Hendrix was also a big admirer. These were guys who knew about playing loud rock/blues jams, so I think their admiration means something.

There is a distinction to make, though - there are many testimonies as to what an awesome experience it was to see Cream live, being flattened by the volume etc - so I think it must have been more impressive to see them live, when it was new & loud & surprising, than to hear them today.
Also, as many Cream bootlegs prove, they played many shows that were better than the officially released shows. The live Cream albums are good examples of what they did, but not the best.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Mar 27, 2012 3:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Ain't it the truth? That Oct 67 show is soooo good. Too bad it wasn't released...The first four tunes are just killer (ie, I prefer the NSU/SWine from that night over any others, not too mention ToBU, and the rest as we've discussed).

FWIW, the older brother (other's passed on) has had a chance to hear all the shows (via what I've sent along) and says that after all these yrs he wouldn't change a single glowing comment from 67 & 68 when he was so impressed. Again, he was very much involved in the "scence", having friends that played in smaller Bay Area bands, and they were v critical of all the SF groups (not unlike our reviewers above, perhaps), but never a bad word for CREAM. He has much more varied musical interests than I do, so I am impressed that it has remained so consistent--not just a case of "those were the days" (no pun intended).

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Mar 26, 2012 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

I think we both have been involved in a similar thread a while back . I am not as big a fan as you, but I think Cream's live stuff has been underrated for years . Those faults/qualities are there , but man they don't GET IT ! Too bad for them .
I think Cream got blamed for being the instigators of the extended jam, thing in rock ,that most critics have little patience for , and anti-improv , became sort of an article of faith for the New Wave/Punk era .

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Mar 26, 2012 10:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

It's interesting that you're a Cream-head at all - if I remember right, you're mainly into classical & jazz (as well as the Dead), so in theory you'd be the kind of listener who'd not be too impressed with Cream's loud jams.
Not that any of us can be pigeonholed into a genre, though. Probably key to anyone's getting into the Dead is the ability to like a variety of musical approaches.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Mar 26, 2012 12:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Serious question for musically inclined sorts...DEAD/nonDEAD

Heh heh, I can like the heavy loud stuff ( a 68-69 Other One can get pretty damn intense, vulgar, and loud !) . When I was really getting into Rock in the early 70's , i liked the powerful , loud, bands like Cream, Hendrix, The Who ( think Live at Leeds ) , and I even loved Black Sabbath for "tuned lawnmower" sound . Later I liked some of the Punk stuff, to some extent ( love the Ramones ) . At the same time i liked the all the other great folks of the time that were not as noisy , Beatles, Moody Blues, Dylan,The Dead etc . As to Cream's loud jams, I grew up with them !
People like Zappa, King Crimson, and the like lead me to Classical , and Jazz took me a little later to get into, and The Dead would have been a prime influence that way . One of the things that makes Coltrane an easier step for someone who grew up on Cream, and Hendrix, is that Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell, both went to the Elvin Jones school of drumming !
Lets see, I like Blues, Country, Folk, Jazz, Rock n Roll, Classical, World Music, ... sounds like I might like the Grateful Dead ! I like the sophistication, and eloquence, of what they did with Bird Song, and the simple soulful gutbucket of a good Big Railroad Blues . Sometimes the Grateful Dead is like being at a strange banquet, where you are served, a series of dishes, all, different , that somehow go together . Like having, ribs, a Jack In the Box taco, some steamed vegetables, some fried chicken, a gourmet soup, sushi, corn-dogs, Thai food, well prepared fish , and mac and cheese ...

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